Unnatural Narrative

Theory, History, and Practice

Brian Richardson

Theory and Interpretation of Narrative


224 pp. 6x9

$29.95 paper 978-0-8142-5209-3
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$24.95 PDF eBook 978-0-8142-8112-3
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Table of Contents

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The author recommends the following links:

The International Society for the Study of Narrative

Unnatural Narratology (Narrative Research Lab)

Unnatural Voices: Extreme Narration in Modern and Contemporary Fiction

Narrative Theory: Core Concepts and Critical Debates

A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative

Narrative Dynamics: Essays on Time, Plot, Closure, and Frames


“In Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice, Brian Richardson offers a study that is crisp, lively, and widely informed, bursting with pertinent literary evidence from a vast swath of reading. A kind of sequel to Unnatural Voices, this new work shows persuasively that narratology requires an additional poetics capable of addressing radical departures from traditional mimetic forms. Unnatural Narrative will have a guaranteed audience waiting among scholars both of narrative theory at large and of the novel as a genre.” —Garrett Stewart, James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa

Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice provides the first extended account of the concepts and history of unnatural narrative. In this book, Brian Richardson, founder of unnatural narrative studies, offers a model that can encompass antirealist and antimimetic works from Aristophanes to postmodernism. Unnatural Narrative begins with a sustained critique of contemporary narratology, diagnosing its mimetic bias and establishing the need for a more comprehensive account. This new approach results in original theoretical insights into the basic elements of story, such as beginnings, sequencing, temporality, endings, and narrative itself.

Applying these theoretical insights, Richardson also provides a compelling alternative view of the history of narrative. He traces a genealogy of unnatural narratives from ancient Greek and Sanskrit works through medieval and renaissance fiction to eighteenth-century and romantic fiction. The study continues through the twentieth century, discussing the unnatural elements of Ulysses and other early twentieth-century texts, and engages with contemporary fiction by offering an alternative account of postmodernism. Unnatural Narrative makes an essential intervention in narrative theory and an important contribution to the history of the novel.

Brian Richardson is professor of English at the University of Maryland.